Metro

Watch these MassWildlife officials release young bald eagles

You can see why it’s the national bird.

Benjamin Franklin once wrote that he did not like the choice of the bald eagle as an American symbol and, in fact, he seemed to suggest he preferred the turkey, calling it a “much more respectable bird and withal a true original native of America.”

The turkey “is besides, (though a little vain and silly tis true, but not the worse emblem for that) a bird of courage, and would not hesitate to attack a grenadier of the British guards who should presume to invade his farm yard with a red coat on,” Franklin wrote in 1784. (The document is real, though some say he was just joking.)

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But the bald eagle has been the national bird since 1782, and in photos and a video released Tuesday by the state Division of Fisheries and Wildlife, its grace and power are on display.

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Two fledgling eagles were released Monday on the Quaboag River in Brookfield after being cared for at Tufts Wildlife Clinic at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University.

The clinic receives an average of three to five fledgling eagles a year following injuries from early flight attempts, Dr. Flo Tseng, director of the wildlife clinic, said in a statement.

“The first few days of flight for these and any other young birds are the most perilous,” Andrew Vitz, MassWildlife’s state ornithologist, said in a statement. “The fledglings may know how to fly, but they don’t know how to land. They sometimes crash to the ground on their chest instead of on their feet.”

The bald eagle, Haliaeetus leucocephalus, is considered a threatened species but, thanks to restoration efforts, it may be upgraded to species of special concern. There are now more than 55 pairs of eagles with nesting territories in the state, MassWildlife said in the statement.

MassWildlife workers Mike Morrelly (right) and Jack Bonafini released one of the birds.
Elaine Brewer/MassWlldlife
MassWildlife workers Mike Morrelly (right) and Jack Bonafini released one of the birds.